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NSW out to win back U19s Origin shield

Westpac NSW Under 19s coach Kate Mullaly has pinpointed the areas she wants her 2024 squad to improve on after coming close to a win in 2023 in the annual State of Origin match against Queensland.

NSW led 10-4 at halftime but slipped to a 20-14 loss at Dolphins stadium in Redcliffe.

“Obviously we were disappointed last year but it was a close, high-quality game of footy,” said Mullaly, former Jillaroos assistant at the 2022 World Cup, who mentored the Under 19s for the first time in 2023.

“I’ve watched the video and I had the girls this year watch it too,” she told

“We’ve learnt a few things from last year, made a few adjustments, but also kept a few things too.

“We want to build on that. I’ve told them we can do all the training we want but it’s about taking those moments in a game.

“We need to pounce on those and win those moments that maybe we didn’t do enough of last year.”

NSW Under 19s coach Kate Mullaly ahead of 2024 Origin match: NRL Photos
NSW Under 19s coach Kate Mullaly ahead of 2024 Origin match: NRL Photos

Tomorrow night at Leichhardt Oval is where the 2024 Under 19s State of Origin will be decided.

Mullaly has 13 players from her 20-member squad, who were part of the 2024 Westpac Tarsha Gale Cup Grand Final – won by the Illawarra Steelers 24-12 over the Newcastle Knights.

“This team has come together quicker than any other team I’ve been a part of,” she said.

“They’re all getting along so well and I’m hoping that transfers onto the field on Thursday night.

“And absolutely having 10 Steelers girls in our 20-player squad is going to beneficial playing-wise, but off the field it’s helped too as it’s less time to get to know one another.

“And they’ve worked hard to mix with the girls not from the Steelers. That’s paid off too.”

Mullaly said her players would not be dazzled by the bright lights at Leichhardt Oval tomorrow night. The match is being telecast live on 9Now and Fox League.

“A few of them have had NRLW experience so the big-game atmosphere with TV cameras and the like isn’t new to them.

“It also helps having two girls, who were part of this game last year, (centre Lindsay Tui, utility half Evie Jones), giving feedback to the new girls in the squad.

The expected dewy and cold conditions had not forced in game-plan tweaks, Mullaly said.

“These girls train in the late afternoon-evening with their NRLW, Harvey Norman and Tarsha Gale clubs so it will be no different for them to play in these conditions.

“They won’t care about the cold. Their mind is going to be on the footy.”

Kick-off is at 5.45pm with the Under 19s men’s State of Origin at 7.45pm.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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